THE BLOG
02/04/2008 10:11 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama, Smart and Prescient About Iraq

Good morning. How are you today?

I'm aware Super Tuesday is tomorrow, and I wanted to do something else to convince more people to vote for Barack Obama.

In my last post, I quoted part of the speech Obama gave opposed to invading Iraq. He gave it on October 2, 2002 in Chicago. (Unless he gave it on October 26, both dates come up when I search.)

October 2nd is when Congress voted to pass the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002." Hillary Clinton voted for that, and at the same time she voted against the Levin amendment which would have required Bush to come back to the Congress a second time, after he went to make his case to the United Nations, before he would have the authorization to use military force.

Bush and Cheney (and Rove and minions of the right) all claimed that that was intolerable, because then the U.N. would have veto power over our foreign policy.

Hillary says the same thing now to defend her vote against that amendment. Baloney.

It doesn't mean that at all. It means, watch out -- we're giving Bush a blank check to do what he wants militarily, let's put the brakes on, make him come back and discuss it before he takes that final step to war. Oh, and there's also that "Congress has the right to declare war" thing in the constitution too.

Bill Clinton a while ago claimed he was "always" against the invasion of Iraq, a ludicrous statement and not true. If he was, he kept quiet about it. (I'm finding the Clintons very annoying. Months ago, I thought it was a plus Bill would be around Hillary's presidency. Now I have much more mixed feelings about it.)

In any case, there were others who did speak out against the invasion at the time of that unfortunate (maybe cowardly, maybe confused) vote of the Congress. Al Gore was one, and gave a stirring and strong speech against the invasion. And so did Barack Obama.

I hadn't seen the full text of the speech until I received it in an email from playwright John Guare this morning. (I'm name dropping, but thought it was interesting how I got it.)

In any case here's the full text of the speech printed below. He really hits every point correctly, while Hillary and so many others were busy saying to George W. Bush, "go do whatever you want, you've succeeded in frightening the American public, so we can't risk getting the public mad at us and thinking we're weak, so go to it, Dubya!" (And if they weren't scared of the public, or positioning themselves not to be "weak on terrorism," then they were in agreement -- and unwise.)

Obama's speech (October, 2002):

Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been
billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not
opposed to war in all circumstances.

The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only
through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we
could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from
our soil. I don't oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was
bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the
fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first
entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger
freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and
he did not fight in vain.

I don't oppose all wars.

After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the
dust and the tears, I supported this Administration's pledge to hunt
down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of
intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such a
tragedy from happening again.

I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is
no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a
dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is
the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other
arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own
ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives
lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to
distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a
drop in the median income - to distract us from corporate scandals and a
stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great
Depression.

That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on
reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear - I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is
a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to
secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted
UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and
coveted nuclear capacity.

He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off
without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the
United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in
shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and
that in concert with the international community he can be contained
until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin
of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US
occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with
undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a
clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan
the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than
best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of
al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our
children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a
fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and
al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting
down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland
security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that the UN
inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a
non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies
like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear
material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the
terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms
merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage
across the globe.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called
allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing
their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and
inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up
without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits
of terrorist cells.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off
Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the
interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that
we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance.
Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may
have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our
freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not - we will not -
travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who
would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full
measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in
vain.